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Multi-national gas supplier thwarts cyber attackers with ABB Ability™ System 800xA v6 and ABB Security Update Service

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End-of-life issues and aging equipment left this major gas supplier vulnerable to cyber attack.

Cyber threats drive needed change

After learning of the WannaCry and Petya cyber attacks in 2017, a large multi-national natural gas transportation and supply company with operations on three continents realized they needed to modernize their control systems’ cyber security defenses. The first 800xA system running Windows XP to manage the compressor stations and the extended pipeline network was installed in 2006. Even though it was updated over the years, when Microsoft ended support for XP in early 2014, the company realized it was time to upgrade again. Losing XP support from Microsoft imperiled the efficiency of their control systems and exposed them to greater risk of cyber attack because the underlying operating system would no longer receive regular security updates. 

Modernize control systems and improve control systems cyber defenses

Because so many people and businesses depend on the company for their energy needs, a cyber attack that interrupted operations could rise to the level of national security in at least one of the countries they operate. For that reason alone, avoiding unplanned downtime of this critical infrastructure – especially due to cyber attack – was critically important. 

Main facts

Industry Oil and gas
Customer Gas supplier
Country Spain
Solutions

Solution

To solve this problem, ABB’s oil and gas industrial automation business unit (IAOG), upgraded the existing 800xA control system to the latest ABB Ability™ 800xA version 6. Specifically developed to support upgrades of older control systems running on unsupported operating systems, System 800xA v6 provides customers with a secure automation platform that lowers total cost of ownership while improving productivity.

Designed with cyber security in mind, System 800xA v6 provides a comprehensive set of embedded mechanisms to manage cyber security risks such as advanced access control, whitelisting, and remote monitoring and management of the control system’s security integrity. Operators and plant management can now access detailed information about installed system software, system health status, safety and security reports, field alerts and service contacts through myABB/My Control System, a secure web-based platform that supports System 800xA control systems.

To ensure the upgraded control system remained secure day-to-day, the client added a three year Automation Sentinel Lifecycle Management Program - Maintain Plus service agreement, which not only provides access to the latest control system software and enhancements, it better protects their control system from malware and cyber-attacks. Additionally, ABB’s Security Update Service automatically distributes ABB tested and validated updates directly to the customer site. The Security Update Service eliminates the risk of introducing an errant patch that could crash a running control system. It also removes the need for control system operators to manually install and configure daily updates.
 Benefits
  • Higher productivity through enhanced software functionality and improved system availability
  • Approved security patches and security updates distributed directly to customer  control systems on site with Security Update Service
  • Virus scanner software and operating system software always updated according to ABB’s recommendation
  • Access to detailed information about installed system, software downloads and product documentation in myABB/My Control System

Results

Since the changeover to the new system, the customer has achieved higher productivity and improved performance through enhanced software functionality and system availability, leading to less unplanned downtime. Their systems run Microsoft’s latest patches and upgrades, and McAfee anti-virus signatures.

Now that plant personnel are no longer installing control systems upgrades and patches manually, the customer’s cyber security is greatly improved. ABB’s Security Update Service relieves them of this burden while ensuring their control system defenses are always up-to-date. This service saves maintenance staff hundreds of hours of manual work per year. Following the success of this pilot project, the company is now deploying the ABB Security Update Service to all their gas compressors. 

Benefits

  • Higher productivity through enhanced software functionality and improved system availability, performance and reliability with predictable costs over the next three years

  • Operators and plant management have access to detailed information about the installed system software, system health status, safety and security reports, field alerts and service contacts through myABB/My Control System, a secure web-based platform

  • Customer receives control software technical corrections, service packs, software revisions, updates and upgrades to continually optimize the control system via myABB/My Control System portal

  • Enhanced security against cyber-attacks and cyber threats: Virus scanner software and operating system software always updated according to ABB’s recommendation

  • Security Update Service provides Microsoft® security patches and 3rd party Antivirus files verified by ABB for relevance and system compatibility directly to customer site

Gas compressor station

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